You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Big River

Exquisite lensing fails to prevent "Big River," a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. Film's sheer beauty may help position it at indie-flavored fests but the faux-naif tone will be too dull for more general auds. Film is skedded for Japanese release next summer.

Cast:
With: Joe Odagiri, Kavi Raz, Chloe Snyder. (English, Urdu dialogue)

Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s sheer beauty may help position it at indie-flavored fests but the faux-naif tone will be too dull for more general auds. Film is skedded for Japanese release next summer.

In the middle of the Arizona desert, punkish Japanese hitchhiker Teppei (Joe Odagiri) crosses paths with Ali (Kavi Raz), a middle-aged Pakistani who arrived Stateside the day before. Ali has a car, and Teppei has cigarettes, so they team up to travel together.

When the car breaks down, Teppei offers to walk to the gas station five miles away to buy gas. But he’s shocked when Ali balks at his request for gas money.

While Ali stays with the car, Teppei encounters the leggy Sarah (Chloe Snyder), who looks like she wandered off the set of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Teppei enlists her to go with him in his quest for gas.

Ali (presumably Muslim) is agitated by Sarah’s minimalist attire, but when her superior knowledge of automobiles reveals it’s actually a dirty fuel line that has stranded the two men, he accepts her assistance. She takes them to her home:a trailer park where she lives with her drunken father.

As an attraction develops between Sarah and Teppei, Ali reveals he came to the U.S. to retrieve the Pakistani wife who left him. Sarah and Teppei decide to help him. Performances are deliberately stilted to match the awkward mood, but Odagiri, who has a limited grasp of English, overplays his role. Thin yarn leaves protags with nowhere to go, and, though the healing power of forgiveness is promoted as a theme, it’s nullified by the characters’ communication problems, which prevent any dilemmas from truly being discussed.

Lenser/co-writer Eric Van Den Brulle seems to lean on his beautiful desert landscapes at the expense of a satisfying narrative. Likewise, the characters remain first-draft ciphers, lacking the depth or complexity to engender any real affection.

Score by Janek Duszynski matches the impressive photography and periodically gives the film a much-needed boost.

Big River

Japan

Production: A Big River Films production in association with Bandai Visual, Tokyo FM, TV Asahi, Tokyo Theatres, Office Kitano. (International sales: Office Kitano, Tokyo.) Produced by Masayuki Mori, Takio Yoshida, Shozo Ichiyama. Co-producers, Mohammed Naqvi, Alyssa Black. Directed by Atsushi Funahashi. Screenplay, Funahashi, Eric Van Den Brulle.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Eric Van Den Brulle; editor, Steve Hamilton; music, Janek Duszynski; production designer, Jeffrey Bercume; sound (Dolby Digital), Justin Kawashima, Sergio San Miguel. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (New Currents), Oct. 7, 2005. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Joe Odagiri, Kavi Raz, Chloe Snyder. (English, Urdu dialogue)

More Film

  • 'Dark Is the Night' Review: Toronto

    Toronto Film Review: Dark Is the Night

    Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s […]

  • 'My Generation' Review: A Diverting Documentary

    Film Review: 'My Generation'

    Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s […]

  • Stranger Things Season 2

    Halloween Costume Ideas 2017

    Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    'Thor: Ragnarok' Tracking for $100 Million-Plus Opening in North America

    Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s […]

  • DORA THE EXPLORER

    Film News Roundup: Live-Action 'Dora the Explorer' Moves Forward With Nick Stoller

    Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s […]

  • BMG Production Music

    BMG Production Music Expands with Acquisition of Movie Marketing Mainstay

    Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s […]

  • Rohit Jain Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Taps Rohit Jain as Head of Mumbai Office

    Exquisite lensing fails to prevent “Big River,” a Japanese directed, English-lingo, U.S.-based road movie, from being dammed by dead-end narrative tributaries. New York-based director Atsushi Funahashi follows up his 2002 “Echoes” with a Jim Jarmusch-like movie that recalls the work of producer Jim Stark (“Mystery Train,” “Cold Fever”) but without the wise guy wit. Film’s […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content